There are approximately 12 million car accidents in the United States each year. It is a disturbing fact that you or someone you know is likely to be involved in an auto accident. Take a few minutes to read the answers to these frequently asked questions about accidents.
What Should I Do If I Am in an Accident?
See the accompanying article for a helpful checklist of “do's and don'ts” if you are involved in an accident.
How Are Insurance Claims Handled?
As soon as possible after the accident, contact your insurance company. If the accident was the other driver's fault, your claim should be paid by his or her insurance company. If the other driver does not have insurance, or does not have enough insurance, your insurance company may pay your claim, depending on what kind of coverage you have.
Some insurance companies will tell you that you don't need an attorney to represent you if you are injured in the accident. This is bad advice. Never give an insurance company official statements about the accident without consulting with us so that we can protect your rights.
What About Property Damage Claims?
Most property damage claims are handled quickly and efficiently and usually do not require a lawyer. If the accident is not your fault, the other driver's insurance should pay to fix your car, unless it would cost more to fix your car than it is worth. If this is the case, your car is “totaled,” and you will receive only the market value of your car before the accident. Many repair shops will help you by providing free repair estimates for insurance purposes.
What If I Am Injured?
As with property damage, if the other driver is responsible for the accident, he or she is also responsible for your medical bills. If you have been injured, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible. Remember: An injury may not appear until long after the accident.
Do I Need an Attorney?
If you were not hurt, or if the only damage suffered is property damage, you probably will not need an attorney. However, if you have been injured or have missed work, you should contact us immediately to help you get your fair due from the insurance companies. Unfortunately, many insurance companies make it difficult to recover for certain kinds of injuries (such as whiplash) without a lawyer's help.
How Much Will It Cost to Get Legal Help?
Most attorneys who handle personal injury lawsuits do so on a contingent‑fee basis. This means that you do not have to pay for the attorney's services out of your own pocket, but instead the attorney will receive a share of the recovery if you are successful. If you don't win, you don't pay. We believe that you deserve good legal help even if you do not have a lot of money.
What Is My Claim Worth?
The answer depends on a number of different factors. You should be compensated for your medical bills and lost wages, both past and future. You also should recover something for the pain and suffering the accident has caused you. If your injuries are serious enough, they may affect you for the rest of your life, and so you should be able to recover for your lost earning capacity.
How Long Will It Take to Settle My Claim?
Many cases settle quickly, to everyone's satisfaction. Others continue for months or even years, depending on whether there are disputed facts and on the amount of medical treatment you require. Still other cases cannot be settled without a trial, which may take longer.
Who Do I Talk to?
If you have been in an accident and have questions about whether you need a lawyer or whether you have a right to monetary damages, call us. Decisions that must be made after an accident are very important. We will be happy to talk to you about your case.
AUTO ACCIDENT CHECKLIST
- STAY CALM.
- Move yourself and your passengers out of harm's way. Call the police.
- Assist anyone who is injured. Call for an ambulance if necessary.
- Get the name, address, phone number, and license number of the other driver(s) and car(s). Exchange insurance information. DO NOT discuss the accident (except with the police), but DO make notes of anything the other driver(s) says about the accident.
- Get the names, addresses, and phone numbers of any witnesses.
- Get photographs of your vehicle, contact your insurance company, and write down everything you remember about the collision ASAP.
- Contact our firm to discuss your legal options.
For more information on managing auto accidents visit the Worthington Law Group website.